Partner Spotlight: Q&A with Kelly Obarski from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast and Think Big for Kids started their partnership in June of 2020. Since the start of the partnership Think Big has facilitated an 8-week Summer Career Planning program to teens, has over 15 high school students from their clubs enrolled in the Think Big Mentor Program and offers monthly Career Showcases to middle school students at the Suncoast Club. Kelly Obarski from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast played a crucial role in getting Think Big programming up and running at the Suncoast Clubs and has been a great partner and supporter of Think Big. This interview highlights the importance of Think Big programming for students at the Suncoast Clubs and spotlights Kelly’s role at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast.
Q: What is your role at the Boys and Girls Clubs and how do you work with Think Big in your role?
A: My role entails overseeing the implementation and delivery of operations, programs, training, services and activities for all 7 Club locations in order to facilitate youth development and achievement. I ensure continuous program quality improvement through research-based data collection and analysis at each Club and I ensure all programs are aligned with Boys & Girls Clubs mission and vision to ensure optimal Club experiences for all of our members. We are proud to partner with Think Big, working together to ensure that every middle and high school Club member is building individual and collective workforce development skills and learning about resources available to them.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: I love that I can make an immediate and long-term impact on a child’s life as well as his/her family’s. I love that my work changes day to day and I have the flexibility to grow our staff to meet individual and Club needs. I love that every member of our team is dedicated to our mission and vision and will do “Whatever it Takes” to make a difference in our community.
Q: Why do you think career exploration, mentoring and job-readiness programs are important at the clubs?
A: So many young people miss out on career exploration, mentoring and the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to be successful in college and future careers. I see hundreds of young adults fumbling after high school, not knowing what they are good at or what they might want to do. They end up wasting years and thousands of dollars trying to figure it out on their own. I was one of these young people. I was offered multiple college scholarships, but didn’t know what I wanted to do, how to fill out college applications, or have a college mentor to guide me. As a result I didn’t go directly to college and then completed a bachelors that wasn’t practical or sustainable. By the time I came back to school to complete my masters and doctorate I had to take a whole year of science classes to catch up, paid for by myself. Once I found my niche, I found grants, scholarships and jobs which helped me develop the skills I needed to be successful and have one of the coolest careers I have ever seen.
Q: What is your favorite part of Think Big’s programming?
A: There are so many parts that it is difficult to choose just one, but one of my favorite programs is the Career Showcase where students get an opportunity to meet a variety of professionals and ask questions about their careers. As a former educator, I also appreciate how the students need to prepare questions ahead of time and are also guided in creating resumes, being interviewed, and planning for their future.